The Lamar Consolidated High School football team plays in what has become an even tougher district this season with Bryan Rudder and Katy Paetow stepping up their games.
The result is five teams fighting for four playoff spots entering week 11.
Three teams have punched their ticket to the playoffs with A&M Consolidated locking up the District 10-5A DII title and Paetow earning a playoff spot at 5-1.
But the final standing in the district could be completely shuffled depending on who wins this week.
The two games to watch are Rudder-Huntsville on Thursday and Lamar Consolidated-Paetow on Friday at 7:30 p.m. in Guy K. Traylor Memorial Stadium.
There are scenarios that can put the Mustangs as high as the No. 2 seed or as low as the fourth seed that all depends on how the point differential shakes out. But the biggest thing that the Mustangs can do for themselves is to pick up a win Friday night in the regular-season finale.
The Lamar-Paetow match will be headlined by a battle of running backs with seniors Jonathan Jolly and Taye McWilliams.
Paetow’s Jolly leads the district with 140 carries and 1,220 rushing yards. But McWilliams leads the district in yards per carry (10.30) and rushing touchdowns (15).
Both teams have a solid secondary rushing threat as well. Paetow has the No. 3 rusher in district, junior Damon Bankston, who has 962 yards and eight touchdowns on 106 carries. Lamar senior Daniel Blackmore has 644 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns on 79 carries.
Both teams will have to find a way to bottle up the other’s top running back to be headed toward a victory.
Paetow enters the contest with the No.1 defense in the district, allowing 222.8 yards per game. The Panthers have allowed only 90 rushing yards per game.
On the other sideline, Lamar Consolidated is fourth in district, allowing 320 yards per game. The Mustangs have given up 186 rushing yards per game.
The difference on defense could come with turnovers. Lamar has forced 23 turnovers this season (12 fumble recoveries and 11 interceptions) and Paetow has 20 (11 fumble recoveries and nine interceptions).